Comprehensibility of Orthogonal Variability modeling languages: The cases of CVL and OVM

Iris Reinhartz-Berger, Kathrin Figl

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


As the complexity and variety of systems and software products have increased, the ability to manage their variability effectively and efficiently became crucial. To this end, variability can be specified either as an integral part of the development artifacts or in a separate orthogonal variability model. Lately, orthogonal variability models attract a lot of attention due to the fact that they do not require changing the complexity of the development artifacts and can be used in conjunction with different development artifacts. Despite this attention and to the best of our knowledge, no empirical study examined the comprehensibility of orthogonal variability models. In this work, we conducted an exploratory experiment to examine potential comprehension problems in two common orthogonal variability modeling languages, namely, Common Variability Language (CVL) and Orthogonal Variability Model (OVM). We examined the comprehensibility of the variability models and their relations to the development artifacts for novice users. To measure comprehensibility we used comprehension score (i.e., percentage of correct solution), time spent to complete tasks, and participants' perception of difficulty of different model constructs. The results showed high comprehensibility of the variability models, but low comprehensibility of the relations between the variability models and the development artifacts. Although the comprehensibility of CVL and OVM was similar in terms of comprehension score and time spent to complete tasks, novice users perceived OVM as more difficult to comprehend.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 18th International Software Product Line Conference
Subtitle of host publicationCompanion Volume for Workshops, Demonstrations and Tools
EditorsStefania Gnesi, Alessandro Fantechi, Patrick Heymans, Julia Rubin, Krzysztof Czarnecki, Deepak Dhungana
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781450327404
StatePublished - 15 Sep 2014
Event18th International Software Product Line Conference, SPLC 2014 - Florence, Italy
Duration: 15 Sep 201419 Sep 2014


Conference18th International Software Product Line Conference, SPLC 2014


  • CVL
  • Empirical Study
  • Model Comprehension
  • OVM
  • Variability analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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